Visiting and Contraband
It is vital for visitors to understand the consequences of taking anything into a visit that is not authorized and can thereby be considered by DOCS "contraband". Lipstick, a letter from Grandma, a Thanksgiving napkin to place on the table to create a holiday mood , a small, sealed pack of Kleenex, a greeting card you would like your loved one to sign for his niece's birthday--all may be considered unauthorized and therefore contraband. A contraband charge can result in a terminated visit, visits denied for a period of time and great hassles for you and your loved one.
Be aware that what is unauthorized at one prison may have no relation to what is unauthorized at another. One prison may allow a pad of paper and a pen. Bring it with you to another prison and the processing COs may speak to you as if you have committed a crime. There is no central list of what is and is not allowed--except for drugs, alcohol, weapons, etc. Even at the same prison, rules change from week to week based on what COs are on duty and how they feel that day.
With regard to drugs...we see visitors pass them to prisoners often...and we also see (primarily) women visitors caught in that act and taken away by the NYS Police. Often, they are immediately jailed, their children taken from them and placed by CPS, possible loss of housing due to a conviction, jail time, Family Court hearings and a mandate for parenting classes, and a long or permanent loss of DOCS visits.
We know that there are not enough effective drug treatment programs in prisons...and that for some prisoners, selling drugs is a way of making money and that some share that with their families...but we think that taking drugs to prison results in nothing positive in the long term. It is illegal, it is scary and it does not indicate anything that is positive about a relationship. If this issue affects you and your family, we are here to speak confidentially about it.